Shyam Nagarajan / Reading Time: 4 mins
Monday 9:00 AM - Curse the traffic
Tuesday 9:00 AM - Curse the traffic
Friday 9:00 AM - Guess what? Curse the traffic.
Not long ago, almost all of our lives used to look this way. Irrespective of who we worked for, where we worked and what we worked on, our lives were all the same and they were driven by two things :
It is kind of stupid to reflect back on this and see how these two inanimate things had such a big influence on our lives.
The truth is that the office as we knew it is way beyond its expiry date. We just had not noticed the label till COVID put a lens on it.
So if the office is dead then what is the future?
We live in an engineered world. Our transport is engineered, our clothes are engineered, our houses are engineered and even our foods are engineered. Last I heard, there was a talk about babies getting engineered. If we need to engineer our office and make it the right one for today's needs then what are the requirements:
Dave Cairns, founder of CBRE Forward, imagines the future will be "office in your pocket". That seems like a good way to put the kind of flexibility and freedom that one should expect. Rather than an inanimate building commanding your life, you should be commanding it.
If the above were the requirements then how would you design an office with the "beginner's mindset"?
"If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few." – Shunryu Suzuki.
The beauty of taking the "beginner's mindset" is that the possibilities are endless. No one can claim that they have "the" solution. You may have "a" solution.
A good way to envision a solution is to assume that it is already in place and imagine how the marketing material for the same would look like. What do you expect in a brochure? Unique selling points, ofcourse. So here is my solution's USP.
Your new office is here, an office that lets you live your dream.
What does your brochure look like?
Cafes have also been about a place to work and a place to have casual meetings as much as they have been about the coffee. Cafes are great getaway spaces near home. GoFloaters started as a cafe coworking startup. We worked with cafes to just rent out their space by the hour where food was completely optional. We hope to revive this back in the future. We still have a few cafes on our platform like The Board Room in Mylapore, Chennai or Tea Trails in Brigade Road Bengaluru?
Neighbourhood coworking spaces could be a great choice too. No, you don't need to rent them out on a monthly basis. You can get hot desks by the day too. You have so many of them in some cities that the closest one could just be a walking distance away or could be right by the metro like Draper Startup House, Koramangala, Bengaluru. You can get a desk for a day starting at prices Rs 250 / day.
Clubhouse. Not the app, I meant your apartment complex's clubhouse. Why not huddle up there with your neighbours and get some work done? Hey, you can be in your casuals and flip flops all day too.
CoLiving + CoWorking? An AI startup approached us recently. They wanted a war room for a month to work on something very important. They had assembled their A team of 15 employees of which some of them were not from the city. We worked with a serviced apartment operator and gave them a "war room" solution. A few rooms where the out-of-city folks could stay and one of the rooms was converted to a work cabin.
Satellite offices. As India came out of wave 2 the problems that companies are trying to solve are not the problems that individuals are facing but the problems their teams are facing. Now they are solving for the 2Cs of collaboration and celebration. 18 months of separation for their teams has had an adverse effect on team bonding. Many new employees have been onboarded virtually and they have not had a chance to know their team members well and to soak in the company culture. This has prompted many companies to look at satellite and temp offices. One company that we work with setup a temp office for 4 days in a month where all the team members could assemble, bond with each other and work with each other. All new joinees were also invited to come to the temp office. Another company that we are working with wants to set up satellite offices across multiple cities so that employees in those cities can come into the office on a rotational basis. Satellite offices and temp offices are a part of the larger hub-and-spoke model that many companies are planning to implement.
Home-sweet-office. Yes, you always have this option. I am penning this post down from my home office. For many of us, this will be where we spend most of our work hours on many days and we switch to other spaces based on need.
The beauty about the remote work choice is that your future office is what you make it to be. You design it and you own it. What does your dream workplace look like?